Family's grief over teenager's drowning

WAKING up every day without their son is like “waking up every day to a nightmare”.Samantha and Jerry Cobbold have today spoken of their grief after losing their teenage son in a drowning accident while on a family holiday in Gran Canaria.

WAKING up every day without their son is like “waking up every day to a nightmare”.

Samantha and Jerry Cobbold have today spoken of their grief after losing their teenage son in a drowning accident while on a family holiday in Gran Canaria.

In an interview with The Evening Star, the Stowmarket couple described their popular son Ashley Surtees as “a really happy lad, friends with everyone”.

Mr and Mrs Cobbold, of Walnut Tree Walk, had gone on holiday with Ashley, 17, and his girlfriend Shireen Halls and were sunbathing just feet away as their son drowned in the hotel swimming pool on July 11.

It is believed he got stuck in a filter at the bottom of the pool.

Today they told how they could not understand how the strong swimmer, who loved being in the water, drowned and they have vowed to search for answers.

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Mrs Cobbold said: “We were sunbathing just steps away. You had to go up stairs to see the pool so we couldn't see him.

“He'd just finished listening to his MP3 player, and helping Shireen with a crossword, and said he wanted to go in the pool.

“I saw a first aider running up the steps and told Jerry to see if he could help as he's also a first aider.

“We followed him up and then I saw Ashley. Six or seven men were around him at the bottom of the pool, trying to pull him up but they couldn't release him.

“When the body was pulled up and he was carried to the edge unconscious I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

“Ashley had asked to go away with his friends this year but I was worried and said 'give it one more year coming away with us'.

“Now it's like waking up every day to a nightmare. Living without him is causing heartache and pain which will be with us forever.

“I miss his lovely smile and voice and his sense of humour.”

Ashley, diagnosed with dyslexia, went to Stowmarket Middle School before moving on to The Priory School in Bury St Edmunds.

He had just completed his first year of a bricklaying course at Otley College and was hoping to get an apprenticeship.

Miss Halls, of Combs, who met Ashley at middle school, said: “He was very thoughtful and caring, and very laid back.”

A post mortem was held in Gran Canaria but the family, including Ashley's 22-year-old brother Lee, are yet to find out the results. A second post mortem is due to be held in England after Ashley's body was brought back to Suffolk on Friday.

Mr Cobbold said: “We had already had more than a week away and were all talking about how to make the most of the last few days.

“It was a real chill-out holiday and he was really happy.”

Mrs Cobbold said: “We need answers about what happened - why he couldn't release himself from the bottom of the pool.

“We don't know why such a young, healthy, strong swimmer could have drowned like that.”

Would you like to pay tribute to Ashley? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk>

ASHLEY Surtees' name is set to live on in the world of sport thanks to a memorial trophy at an annual charity golf day.

Golfers met at Seckford Golf Club, Woodbridge, on Friday for a golf event which has been raising money for Cancer Campaign in Suffolk for seven years.

The event, called the Taylor Trophies, is in memory of Sylvia Abbott, Janet Prendergast and Colin Taylor, siblings who all died of cancer.

Mrs Prendergast was Ashley Surtees' grandmother and used to play in the tournament. This year, a trophy was named in Ashley's memory.

Stuart Abbott, Mrs Abbott's son, is one of the organisers. He said: “It's a really good day each year and is a good chance for us to remember our loved ones.

“We are hoping to raise between £3,000 and £5,000 this year, which will take the total over the years to £40,000.”

Jerry Cobbold, Ashley's father, said: “When we were away on holiday Ashley was talking about how he was looking forward to taking part in the golf day this year.

“He loved sport. He was a keen fisherman, cyclist and swimmer.

“He used to go swimming regularly at Stowmarket Leisure Centre and was confident on holiday in the sea.”

Ashley Surtees' death has stunned his large group of family and friends, prompting a huge outpouring of grief.

The teenager's friends have posted tributes to him on the social networking site Bebo.

Among them, are the following messages:

Jade Stiff

R.I.P Ashley. I'll always remember you back in primary and middle school. You were such a great mate. You have been such a great person and so successful in life. You will b missed and never forgotten.

Lee Warren

Ash mate I still can't get my head round that you have gone.

I walked past your house today and just looked up at your bedroom window. I'm missing you so much.

Why did they have to take someone like you out of this world? You were a guy who cared about everyone and was always up for a laugh. I'm going to miss the times we had. Just wish I could have said goodbye properly.

Kane Hughes

Not a day goes past without you being in my thoughts and I'm sure it will never end. I can't stop thinking about the great times we had fishing and biking and just generally meeting up. Oh Ash you're so missed, just when things were falling in to place, with bricklaying and your girlfriend. I will miss the weekly phone calls we made to keep in touch, as we couldn't always meet up.

Kirsty Schwitzke

Rest in peace honey. God needed an angel and he's got a good one now.

Adam Moye

I will always remember the happy times we shared and will never forget the huge smile you always had. You will be sadly missed by us all and never forgotten, it's not going to be the same without you mate. You were one of the best blokes I knew - honest, kind and caring and most important of all happy.

Stuart Munns

You will always be with me mate. You made a big difference to a lot of people's lives, including mine.

It won't be the same without you. Love you mate.

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